Dreams of Flight
General Aviation in the United States
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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What is general aviation? This question is perhaps most simply answered by explaining what general aviation is not. General aviation is not the scheduled commercial airlines and it is not military aviation. Pretty much all other aviation activities—including private and sport flying, aerial photography and surveying, crop dusting, business flying, medical evacuation ...
1. From First Seeds to Early Blossoms
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... before 1926 witnessed the beginnings of a number of activities that would become part of general aviation. First, pioneer aviators began to explore the limits of the new invention and potential uses for it beyond military and commercial applications. The first of these aviators were the birdmen and bird women of the exhibition era between 1910 and about 1915–16. After World War I, a second group of exhibition pilots emerged: the barnstormers. Second, as ...
2. The“Golden Age”: 1926–39
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... between 1926 and 1939 are known as the “golden age” of general aviation. This golden age came about despite the depression and even as federal rules and regulations made the business of flying as well as of manufacturing and selling aircraft more complex. The mid-1920s marked a turning point in the history of aviation in the United States. All forms of aviation—military, commercial, and general— were affected by federal action. Congress promoted the expansion ...
3. For the Duration: 1939–45
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... spread through Europe and the Far East in the late 1930s, light aircraft manufacturers—along with most of American industry— anticipated participation in war preparedness and then war production. Although it was not clear as late as 1938, general aviation manufacturers and pilots would play a number of military and civilian roles involving both powered and nonpowered aircraft during World War II, and come out of that conflict with optimistic dreams ...
4. Up from the Ashes1945–80
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... hopes many aviation enthusiasts had for a coming air age following World War II were soon dashed. After selling what remains an all-time record number of aircraft right after the war, the general aviation manufacturing industry immediately entered a steep decline from which many companies never recovered. In addition, the postwar period witnessed increased federal regulation. The relationship ...
5. Dreams Once Again DeferredPost-1980
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... of the 1980s brought with it a sustained crisis in general aviation. The last two decades of the twentieth century saw a second significant decline in the general aviation manufacturing sector. While the sector began a long-term recovery within five years of the 1946 –47 collapse, the recovery during the second period of decline occurred more slowly and with great uncertainty. In addition, the ...
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Sources for the History of General Aviation
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The literature on the history of general aviation is perhaps best described as scattered. There are so-called buff books on just about every type of light aircraft ever built in the United States, and many of the more popular models have inspired several books. Beyond these ready sources on the planes and the people who built them, the story of general aviation is a ...
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Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 6 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2003
Series Title: Centennial of Flight Series